“Children are our future” said Nelson Mandela. As the pandemic continues to grip the country and the future looks bleak, children’s rights must be first safeguarded.The Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the contagion of the virus among children of a child care centre in Royapuram, Chennai(Tamil Nadu) and has since issued various directives to safeguard the health and safety of children in child care institutions(CCI). Let us take a closer look.
Directives issued by the Supreme Court to CCIs following Covid-19
In its advisory dated 28 March,2020 the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) advised childcare institutions to send back home children who are in conflict with the law & stated that this directive was in line with a Supreme Court order (writ petition (c) No 1/2020) directing all states to release prisoners on parole or interim bail to reduce overcrowding in jails. However CCIs house not only children in conflict with the law, but also children with nowhere to go.
The Supreme Court in In Re Contagion of Covid 19 Virus in Children Protection Homes, Suo Moto Writ Petition No. 4 of 2020, on 3rd April, 2020, issued directives for CCIs, by bringing to the fore the issue that the interest of children who are housed in CCIs needs to be looked into.
The Supreme Court advised all states to file affidavits regarding the compliance with above directives and steps that are being taken to protect the children in the CCIs. Upon submissions by certain states, the Court issued the following general directives and also state wise orders:
Child Care Institutions were already bridled by multiple challenges, as can be seen in the next section. The Supreme Court has pro-actively issued directives and is continuously following up on the implementation of the same, in the interest of the children of these homes. In addition to safety and welfare of the children, educational needs of the children will also need to be met. The hope is that civil society organisations carry out programs and interventions that benefit the inmates of these homes. The absence of examinations can be used as an opportunity facilitate joyful learning and fostering safe spaces for these children.
 Sec. 2(21), JJ Act, 2015.
 Sec. 2(19), JJ Act, 2015.
 Sec. 2(27), JJ Act, 2015.
 Sec. 2(40), JJ Act, 2015.
 Sec. 2(41), JJ Act, 2015.
 Sec. 2(56), JJ Act, 2015.
 Sec. 2(57), JJ Act, 2015.
 https://www.childlineindia.org. in/pdf/MWCD-Child-Abuse-Report.pdf
 In Re Contagion of Covid 19 Virus in Children Protection Homes, Suo Moto Writ Petition No. 4 of 2020. https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/10820/10820_2020_0_4_21584_Order_03-Apr-2020.pdf